I recently received a fantastic reader inquiry regarding dairy (keep those questions coming!). There is a quite a bit of dissension in the ancestral health world regarding dairy. For example:
Paleo enthusiasts avoid dairy.
Primal enthusiasts enjoy dairy, in moderation.
Keto/LCHF enthusiasts generally think dairy is great!
So, should you eat dairy or not? There are a few factors to consider.
1. Dairy contains lactose. Lactase is the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose, and many individuals stop producing lactase after weaning from breast milk. This makes lactose difficult to digest. Lactose intolerance can be assessed by a doctor with a blood glucose test or a hydrogen breath test. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas, bloating, diarrhea and stomach pain.
2. Dairy contains casein (or whey). Some people are allergic to this protein. An allergy can be assessed by a doctor with food sensitivity labs. Symptoms of casein allergies include congestion, itchy skin, rashes, diarrhea and watery eyes.
While doctor visits can be conclusive they can also be time consuming and expensive. I think the easiest way to determine if you react negatively with dairy is to eliminate it from your diet for a month. After a month, try a small serving and see how you react. Do you have any of the symptoms listed above? Are they mild or severe?
I feel very grateful that I have no problems with dairy products. Tom, on the other hand, has a mild turbulent reaction (i.e.: gas) but he chooses to deal with it because cheese is such an enjoyable part of his diet.
If you choose to enjoy dairy, I do recommend that you buck up for quality products.
- Low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese: these items have been stripped of the healthiest part of dairy; the gorgeous fat has been removed and replaced with sugar. Yuck.
- Cheese with unnecessary or weird ingredients (cheese should not be orange).
- Cheese from factory/feedlot cows: these cows are pumped up with hormones and antibiotics. Scary.
- Full fat cream and yogurt from pasture raised, grass-fed cows.
- Full fat cheeses from pastured raised, grass-fed cows.
- Full fat sheep and goat cheeses (the BEST option, in my opinion).
Goat and sheep cheeses tend to cause less disturbances in the gut. Both are lower in lactose and have a different type of casein that is generally less disruptive.
Ingredient lists should contain minimal ingredients, for example:
"cultured goat milk, salt, enzymes"
What are your thoughts on dairy? Do you choose to eat it or leave it?